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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Butler Middle student’s new soda pop flavor, label become reality

Feb 11, 2021 01:36PM ● By Julie Slama

Butler Middle School seventh-grader Emery Gallegos holds a bottle of the soda pop, “Sunset Blend,” she created and named. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Shortly before a small ceremony, Butler Middle School seventh-grader Emery Gallegos revealed she was so surprised—and super excited.

“It was a sixth-grade assignment and now it’s a reality,” she said. “This is super cool.”

Then, she joined not only the sixth-grade teachers, but her family, her school administrators, Canyons School District Board of Education president and vice president and the owner of Real Soda in Real Bottles, who livestreamed from California.

Emery and other Butler sixth-graders had an assignment to make a new flavor of a soda pop, describe what it would be like, create a label and a slogan, and pitch it to their class. 

The winner of each class would compete against other sixth-grade winners until they had an overall winning flavor and marketing campaign. Then, it would be turned over to Real Soda to actually make the flavor.

“We voted last fall and I won in my class, but I tied with another student from second period, so we had to have a runoff. I was super excited that I won,” she said about the competition amongst 250 other students. “I can’t believe it actually got made.”

Emery decided the flavor she wanted was raspberry, lemon and strawberry because “they go together.” She likes sunsets and likes painting them, so she incorporated that into her label, the name of her flavor, “Sunset Blend,” and her tagline: “I’ve never seen an ugly sunset.”

“I wanted it to remind people of a place or memory. And I thought, ‘I’m pretty good at painting sunsets, and I enjoy doing that,’” she said.

At the ceremony, she saw and tasted her soda pop for the first time.

“It does taste like a sunset if you could drink a sunset,” she said.

Butler Principal Paula Logan said that the school purchased several cases to share with former sixth-graders who were in her class as well as have it be available in the school store. She also plans to display Emery’s original artwork and a bottle of the soda pop alongside it.

While the flavor has yet to reach the local area grocers’ shelves, it already had made its initial debut in St. George, with bottles available at a general store for about $2.50 per bottle. It also made its way in several California markets after being bottled in New Mexico.

It was sixth-grade teacher Mark Sanderson who had a connection to Real Soda in Real Bottles owner and operator Danny Ginsburg.

“I had worked a year with seniors at Hillcrest while they were writing research papers and thought they really had some good ideas,” he said. “I already had known Danny, so when I came to Butler, I asked what if a student here could develop a new flavor soda and he immediately said he would make it a reality.”

So, Sanderson and colleague Rachel Sollis assigned students to “be creative like Willie Wonka” in the novel, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” He said that Emery, who is “a smart, artistic, quiet and modest student” won by five votes cast by her peers and received the “golden ticket” to have her creativity be bottled in the soda pop.

“Danny said that he would make the winning student’s flavor, the color of the drink, tagline, label and name,” Sanderson said. “We began this last fall, but everything—the production, the supply chain—slowed down with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s like a Christmas miracle that it happened. And now it will be fun to see it in stores. It’s a school lesson that got produced to be a real product. His generosity brought learning to the real world.”

Ginsburg stayed true to Emery’s idea and concept.

“It’s the first time I’ve done something like this before and it’s been fun,” he said. “I liked her flavor; it’s a good combination. Lemon goes well with fruit flavors. The strawberry is subliminal to the lemon and raspberry mix. I think it is so exciting when academics meets the real world. I can see her creativity as she explored it.”

Ginsburg said some of his other products were based off his doodling in school when he was a student. He also collected bottle caps as a hobby. This evolved into bringing an idea of combining creative names and flavors into the soda pop industry and his company.

“As we all get older, we look back on the teachers we remember who stimulated some interest in us when we were younger and not really sure what we wanted to do with our lives,” Ginsburg said. “Doing an interactive and innovative project like this can really blossom into something, not just for the students who participate, but for those who see what’s possible and are inspired.”